GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — Testimony ended Wednesday in a trial of a school system's reading books with an attorney asking that public education be saved from seven fundamentalist Christian families, who say they are being persecuted for their beliefs.
The families sued the Hawkins County schools to obtain alternative books for their children, complaining that a 1983 Holt, Rinehart & Winston Inc. reading series teaches evolution, humanism and 14 other themes offensive to their strict interpretation of the Bible.
U.S. District Judge Thomas G. Hull set an Aug. 22 deadline for additional written arguments in the case and scheduled final oral arguments for Sept. 24. If he decides for the families, Hull will seat a jury to decide if damages should be awarded.
Denying alternative reading books for the families would "send the message that Christians are second-class citizens," said attorney Michael Farris, who was hired to represent the families by Concerned Women for America, a conservative Washington-based group.